Checking In: Communicating with Employees and Customers During a Crisis
April 15, 2020
Over the last few weeks, Americans have endured a roller coaster of emotions – confusion, fear, love, gratitude, grief, you name it. Uncertainty is taxing all of us, impacting morale, mindset and business.
The impact of the coronavirus on daily life is rapidly evolving, which means communications strategies and messages must quickly adapt. To manage this evolution, communicators have to keep a finger on the pulse of the moods and needs of our most important stakeholders: our customers and employees.
While there is no substitute for checking in on customers and employees with direct conversations, a variety of methods are available to help communicators track ongoing shifts in mood and needs. Options like short pulse surveys and social listening help communicators gather insights in real time to inform ongoing strategy decisions.
Employees: Make them Feel Heard
Your employees are the heart of your business, and they drive your organization forward. But employee routines have been upended by new safety and social distancing protocols, the shift to remote work, and anxieties about layoffs or furloughs. A Consumer Intelligence Snap Poll conducted by G&S in late March found that in addition to making adjustments at work, employees are juggling new challenges at home, including concerns about health and finances.
Keeping tabs on the employee experience will help ensure your organization provides the right level of support and communication for all employees, whether they are working on the front lines or at home. Brief polls on online internal communication channels and frequent one-one-one check-ins with managers are ways to ensure employee feedback is heard and acted on by the leadership team.
Questions to Ask Your Employees
Do you feel supported by our organization?
What additional support do you need right now, or in the next few months?
Are you satisfied with the level and content of communications coming from the organization?
How are you feeling overall?
Are you aware of mental health resources available from the organization?
For remote workers, consider adding:
Do you have the right technology and training to work from home?
Do you have enough flexibility to manage your work and the needs of your household?
In what ways can our organization provide more support so you feel more connected to other employees and their managers?
For essential employees in healthcare, manufacturing, public services and other industries that require a physical presence, additional questions include:
How satisfied are you with the safety protocols in place?
What additional resources do you need to help you feel safe?
Customers: Monitor their Needs
Your customers are the reason you exist. Like all of us, customers are facing uncertainties in business, anxieties about health and challenges at home. This isn’t the time for the hard sell, but rather a time to focus on helping customers solve their most immediate problems and plan for a future after the coronavirus. Organizations seeking to serve as a resource for customers (and prospects) need to maintain an understanding of the customer experience and evolving customer needs.
Particularly in B2B organizations, one-on-one discussions with key customers are the best way to maintain relationships and offer reassurance during a crisis. If that’s not feasible, rather than conducting long, in-depth surveys during this time, consider running ongoing pulse surveys with a handful of questions about key needs. Beyond pulse surveys, analysts at G&S are also employing social listening and media monitoring to help our clients gather timely feedback from customers during the pandemic.
Questions to Ask Your Customers
What are the key challenges you are facing right now?
How is your business performing?
How is your workforce feeling?
What ways can we help support your customers during the pandemic?
Has the inability for us to provide in-person support impacted your business or our relationship?
Are you satisfied with our response to the coronavirus?
How would you like us to communicate with you during the pandemic?
Amidst the uncertainty, the mounting challenges of an unprecedented pandemic and the rapidly shifting goals and guidance from global leaders, offering your critical stakeholders the reassurance that you’re attuned to their needs and moods can go a long way. Not only are you continuing to find ways to bring value to those who bring the most value to your business, but you’re also deepening key relationships that will continue to produce value long after the crisis – and its emotions – are in the rearview mirror.
For new updates and other resources, please visit www.gscommunications.com/coronavirus, and do not hesitate to contact us with further inquiries. We know the uncertainty brings significant business risks, and we’re here to help.